Is there a more beautiful city in the world than Dubrovnik? If there is, I have not seen it.
Nicknamed the “Pearl of the Adriatic”, this historic Croatian city is enchanting, enigmatic and incredibly striking – not least because of the magnificent medieval fortifications that surround it. From this vantage point, you can simultaneously marvel at the city and gaze upon the blue splendour of the Adriatic Sea.
Mostly constructed between the 12th and 14th centuries, Dubrovnik’s defensive stone walls run for more than 2km around the old town and are 25m tall at their highest point.
It can be a bit of a hard slog during the hottest part of the day but it’s well worth it for photos like these.
Reinforced in later centuries, these walls were erected to protect the former city-state from invaders; now they’re one of Dubrovnik’s most remarkable features as well as its top tourist attraction, affording visitors amazing views over the city and sea, as well as of the historic forts along its perimeter.
It costs roughly 70kn ($12US) to walk the walls, which are open to the public from 8am to 7pm. You simply can’t pass up an opportunity to walk Dubrovnik’s walls – it’s by far the best thing to do in this amazing city.
But Dubrovnik’s architecture, too, is a sight to behold. Spectacular churches and monasteries stand relatively untouched by the centuries, alongside historic fountains and giant archways.
Without getting into too much detail – a blog post for another time – Dubrovnik’s highlights include the historic Dominican Monastery, the Church of Saint Ignatius, the Placa Stradun (the main street in Dubrivnik old town) the large and ornate Onofrio fountain and Dubrovnik’s old port, with its collection of cafes, bars and tourist shops.
Dubrovnik’s cobbled streets add to the city’s historic charm – but it’s not difficult to get lost amongst the city’s warren of little streets. At one point, there is a hole in the base of Dubrovnik’s fortifications, from which you can climb outside the city and go swimming from the rocks.
It’s a fairly popular little spot for locals and tourists alike, with a small cafe nearby, but don’t expect it to be easy to find. Nothing in Dubrovnik is very well signposted.
Famed Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said that “those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik and find it”. He is most definitely not wrong. Dubrovnik was everything I thought Venice would be and wasn’t – a remarkable and beautiful little city that leaves a lasting impression.
Dubrovnik was a highlight of my sailing trip in Croatia and remains amongst the best places I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit.
Have you been to Dubrovnik and what did you think? You might also enjoy these other surprisingly great European cities to visit…